The Lead South Australia

News leads from South Australia

Get The Lead in your inbox. Subscribe

Challenging Finke and PTSD for first responders


Former paramedic Anita Boston is taking on the Aussie desert to raise funds for first responders suffering from PTSD.

Print article Republish Notify me

Sign up to receive notifications about new stories in this category.

Thank you for subscribing to story notifications.

When Anita Boston gets on her motorbike to race one of the most iconic offroad races in Australia next month, she will not only be proving to herself she has what it takes to face the challenge, but determined to raise awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

It is a personal challenge that Boston knows only too well.

As an intensive care paramedic diagnosed with PTSD in 2020, Boston found riding motorbikes off road was a release for the mental struggle as she worked to rediscover herself.

“I was a paramedic and an intensive care paramedic for 20 years and I worked everywhere from on-the-road in the metro and Barossa area to regional team leader on Yorke Peninsula, working with volunteers and relieving as team leader in the Clare Valley,” she said.

“The problem was that I’d been a paramedic for 20 years and that was who I was.

“Everyone identified me as a paramedic, so for a long time after stepping back I had to try and reidentify myself as something other than an ambo and that was really hard for a long time.”

Boston still works for SA Ambulance but has taken a step back from the front line.

Come June 9, she will ride up to the start line of the Finke Desert Race, a gruelling 260-kilometre ride from Alice Springs to Finke and back again.

Through sand chopped up by buggies and bikes, it is a challenging and remote course, with stage one required to be completed in 4.5 hours to be allowed to make the return ride to the Alice.

Her husband Craig was supposed to race alongside her as support, but a broken ankle just six weeks out has put him out of the race and Boston will ride alone.

She is embarking on the race as a personal challenge but also to raise funds for the Sirens of Silence charity through her Facebook page Fly Like a Feather for PTSD in First Responders.

Boston has already raised almost $15,000 for the charity, with additional support to help get her on the track to Finke.

She hopes her race will also break down some of the myths around PTSD.

“There’s a stereotype thinking that PTSD only stems from one massive event, which may be the case for some people, but for others it’s a chronic build up,” Boston said.

“Everyone has a bucket and every job you go to goes into that bucket. Eventually, one job will go into the bucket and the whole thing overflows unless you have a way to empty it.

“That job could be the simplest thing, it can be a really insignificant, straightforward job, but it is the one that makes everything spiral out of control.

“In my case, I didn’t see it coming.”

Through a dark time, finding off-road motorbike riding was a shining light on her road to recovery.

Boston was inspired to take it a step further and ride the Finke Desert Race by her father-in-law, motorcycle enthusiast “Feathers” Boston from Jamestown. He rode the first Finke race in 1976, along with the 40th-anniversary ride in 2015, and many other iconic races in between.

It was Feathers who first gave Boston one of his old bikes, a 1985 two-stroke, when her son showed an interest in off-ride riding and she wanted to join in the fun.

“I used to ride a road bike, but gave that up when I was pregnant with my first child, and I’d never ridden a two-stroke and didn’t really understand how to ride one,” Boston said.

“It’s completely different to riding on the road and I had no idea what I was doing. But I instantly loved it.”

It has been a steep learning curve and Boston admits she has busted “every piece of plastic” on her motorbike and injured herself while building skills and confidence.

A  couple of busted ribs has not been enough to stop her, but Boston said the Finke race would undoubtedly be one of the greatest challenges she has ever faced.

“You think coming from an ambulance background where everything is uncontrolled – you can’t control the people you go to, you can’t control the day that you’re going to have – that I’d be prepared for this,” she said.

“With motorbike riding, there’s just so many things that can go wrong, you can get hurt, you can’t control everything. But I am in control in some ways and it makes me stop and think about what’s in front of me.

“It’s become my mental safe place, so even though I think it’s probably going to be physically the hardest thing I’ve ever done, I think it’s going to be mentally one of the hardest things I’ve had to face.”

All the while she has her commitment to the Sirens of Silence charity in her mind, making her more determined to finish the race.

“If I didn’t have the fundraising goal behind me I could have easily said this is too hard, it’s too scary, I’m not going to do it,” Boston said.

“But I’ve got so many people that believe in me and have supported me, that’s my strength.”

This is a Creative Commons story from The Lead South Australia, a news service providing stories about innovation in South Australia. Please feel free to use the story in any form of media. The story sources are linked in with the copy and all contacts are willing to talk further about the story. Copied to Clipboard

More Regional stories

Loading next article